Summary of Chapter 1: From Awareness to Funding

This summary reviews the basic facts on why this study is needed. Some of the highlights are:

  • 74% of voters report in surveys they will vote for library referendum but less than 60% do.
  • Only 37% of voters can be counted on to definitely vote “YES” while 37% are the “probably YES” and need to be convinced of the merits.
  • A surprising finding was that “library funding support is not driven by demographics,

i.e., income, age, gender, race, political affiliation, etc. Voters’ attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors, not their demographic profiles, are the most important determinants of willingness to support increases in library funding.” (From “Awareness to Funding,” p. 1-4)

Implications for Public Value Messages

You have to communicate why the library has great value rather than taking it for granted that people understand this. This involves communicating both the direct benefits to patrons and the in-direct benefits to non-patrons or to patrons which use only a small fraction of the library services.

  • Key findings from the quantitative research were:
    1.  “Most people claim they would support the library at the ballot box — fewer are firmly committed to it.
    2. There is a lot that people don’t know about their public library.
    3. Library support is only marginally related to visitation. Advocating for library support to library users focuses on effort and energy on the wrong target groups.
    4. Perceptions of the librarian are highly related to support. “Passionate librarians” who are involved in the community make a difference.
    5. The library occupies a very clear position in people’s minds as a provider of practical answers and information. This is a very crowded space, and to remain relevant in today’s information landscape, repositioning will be required.
    6. Belief that the library is a transformational force in people’s lives is directly related to their level of funding support.
    7. Increasing support for libraries may not necessarily mean a trade-off of financial support for other public services.
    8. Elected officials are supportive of the library — but not fully committed to increasing funding. Engaging Probable Supporters and Super Supporters to help elevate library funding needs are required.” (From “Awareness to Funding,” p. 1-6)
  • Key findings of qualitative research are:
    • Positive votes are not guaranteed even among strong library supporters.
    • Messages need to appeal to both the heart and the mind.
  • Key findings on the campaign messaging:
    •  “Make the library relevant for the 21st Century.
    • Instill a sense of urgency by putting the library in the consideration set for local funding with other public services, like police, parks and fire.
    • Activate a conversation about how the library is a vital part of the community’s infrastructure and future.” (From “Awareness to Funding,” p. 1-8).